Germantown Fire Department

If you were around the Germantown area in the early 70’s you no doubt remember the fire engines racing through the sparsely populated streets. They sounded the siren for all to hear, and for a certain number of Germantown High school students, that siren served as their call to duty upon those same fire engines. 

Listen as Joe swaps stories and and shares tidbits of wisdom from past Fire Chief Phil McCall and our three guests whose bios and messages are below. 

This episode is lovingly dedicated to Chief Phil McCall, who positively impacted many many men and women of the Germantown Fire Department. His legacy and teachings live on to this day and beyond. 

(l-r) Joe Lowry, John OBrien, James (Allen) Jones, Joey Abel, Mark White

Joey Abel

I was born Burbank, CA

Ay age 4 family moved back to Memphis. As I had no car or driver’s license, I went with them.

In 7th grade family moved to Germantown, TN…. Population 1200..One Police car..2 Police traffic light and a Volunteer Fire Department. (Mayberry USA??)

I grew up active in Germantown Methodist Church. First Germantown Boy Scout to attain Eagle Scout with God and Country Award. Graduated M.C. Williams ( Germantown high school) and Memphis State University ( BA Political Science/ Pre Law)

October 1965 when I turned 16, became a High School Volunteer ( Junior Volunteer) Germantown Volunteer Fire Dept… As Germantown was a bedroom city close to Memphis, most adults were employed in Memphis during the day..….Asst. Chief Phil McCall developed the High School teenagers to fill this gap. ( FYI- he was the only paid fireman on city payroll back then)..6 months later Junior Volunteers were merged into full fire department.

I was active on the Fire Department thru after college. I was full time Germantown City Dispatcher 1970/71. I stayed active in the Germantown community after those years. Ran for City Alderman (unsuccessfully)..Served as President of Germantown Festival (1979)..Served on Germantown Park Commission and Germantown Planning Commission.

In simple terms, those years changed my life completely. Sure, we learned how to fight fires with what we had on hand…boy did we..But more importantly, Phil McCall proved to us every day that we could do ANYTHING we put our heart and soul into and never gave up.

James Allen Jones, retired Fire Battalion Chief with the Germantown Fire Department in Germantown Tennessee. I retired with 42 years of dedicated service to the citizens of Germantown.

I currently own a small business and serve as a Life Safety Manager for the Village at Germantown. The Village is a full-service affluent retirement community. I over see a staff consisting of Emergency Medical Technicians and security officer personnel. We provide 24/7/365 Emergency Medical Services and security to the residents on the Village campus. I also oversee fire protection systems, Emergency preparedness and inspection requirements to meet State Life Safety Compliance code requirements.

My qualifications to meet the requirements for my current position as the Life Safety Manager for the Village is based on my past extensive fire service background. Over the course of my 42-year career with the Germantown Fire Department, I obtained numerous qualifications and certifications in prehospital emergency medical service delivery, Fire code inspection and enforcement, Strategic and Tactical Fire Suppression capability and response, Fire service leadership with emphasis in senior management practices and Command and Control of major operations.  

To obtain those qualifications and certifications I attended Memphis State University, Shelby State Community College, Tennessee State Fire Academy, and the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg Maryland. This coupled with extensive online training and course refreshers.

My passion in life has always been to take a compassionate approach toward my fellow man. While attending Germantown high school in the early seventies I became interested in the Germantown Fire Department High School training program. Being involved in sports I learned the value of teamwork. That coupled with an instilled strong work ethic as taught to me by my father, I took those passionate skill sets and used them to help people when in need through my experiences in the High School fire training program. That set the course to entering the career fire service and led me to where and who I am today.

My personal interest is riding my Harley Davidson Motorcycle which I have enjoyed for over 30 years. Spending time with my wife Tina and my two sons who are genuine God gifts to me along with extended family. I enjoy spending time and fellowship with friends and more-so my fire department brothers and sisters. I’ve been retired for almost 15 months but not a day goes by when I do not tear up thinking about my second fire family, my fire brother and sister family working in harms way. I was fortunate to retire as a chief officer without suffering a Line Of duty Death on my shift duty watch. I no longer must place my fire family in harm’s way.

John OBrien

Born December 16, 1955
Joined Germantown FD November 7, 1971
Part time night driver September 15, 1972
Full time fire fighter driver September 1, 1974
Shift commander March 1977
Life Safety Inspector January 1, 1978
Assistant to the Chief January 1982
Fire Chief March 11, 1983
Assistant Chief May 25, 1985
Lieutenant January 1, 1990
Retired after 35 years of service January 31, 2007
Served as Volunteer Fire Chief, LaGrange, Tennessee February 2007 to March 9, 2013

7 thoughts on “Germantown Fire Department

      1. What I enjoyed about the podcast was you got four different perspectives of the impact Chief McCall had on the lives of many young men and women who served on the Germantown Fire Department.

  1. I love all of the stories that are put on here. Back in my day, Germantown was a long way from Midtown. I remember touring the fire station when it was on Avery. It had a jail cell and we got to see the whole station and climb up on the fire truck. Fond childhood memories.

  2. Thanks Mark for getting this out to
    Everyone and explaining the “Phil McCall” factor that explains the origins of the volunteers that set the ground work for transitioning to the full time current day…

  3. My brother was on the volunteer FIre Dept in the early 70’s. I remember my mom receiving the middle of the night calls and running through the house to wake my brother

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